Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 

The Joy of Sukkot

by Rabbi Berel Wein

The awe and introspective contemplation of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur induce a state of spiritual awakening that allows one to truly enjoy and be happy on Sukkot, the festival called "zman simcha'sainu - the time of our joy." There is a great lesson in this progression of holidays which is applicable to every facet of our lives. We are accustomed to think that joy is a spontaneous emotion, requiring no previous training, planning, or accomplishment. The holiday of Sukkot - the time of joy - instructs us otherwise. For without Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, there would not be Sukkot. Without serious preparation, sacrifices of time and wealth and effort (even deprivation and fasting), "joy" in Jewish terms is not lasting and ultimately not even meaningful.

[Without this preparation], joy becomes "a good time," "a night out," something which temporarily gives us distraction, but - like drinking seawater - never really satisfies us. So we must condition ourselves to the necessity of preparation and training if we want the experience of joy to influence us in an authentic way.

A second lesson of Sukkot is that joy is not a singular, unique emotion that is achieved in a vacuum. The holiday of Sukkot has many mitzvahs connected to it. There is the commandment regarding the sukkah (the booth constructed by Jews to eat and sleep in during the week of the holiday) itself, and there are the commandments that relate to the esrog, lulav, hadasim, and aravos (citron, palm branch, myrtle and willow which are used as part of the Sukkot ritual in the synagogue and home) - the four species of plants that are symbolic of G-d's bounty and blessing on this harvest festival. The synagogue service includes hakafos and hoshanos - the processions around the synagogue and the special poems composed for recitation during those processions.

The mitzvahs of Sukkot may be defined as joy-enhancers. They gladden and enlighten us, they make the holiday meaningful to our younger generation in a fashion that no other means of communication can approach. They provide the spiritual connection that allows our joy to be internalized and memorable, forever subject to recall and self-study.

Jewish tradition knows no other form of commemorating meaningful joy except for the connection of such potentially joyful times to Torah and the G-d of Israel. Sukkot and its wealth of mitzvahs make this point tellingly clear to us.

One of my lifetime dreams has been to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot in Jerusalem within the confines of my own sukkah. This Sukkot, my dream has been realized. On my beautiful balcony there stands a wonderful sukkah made of wood and canvas. And my sukkah is wonderfully furnished with a comfortable cot to sleep on, a spacious table for our family and guests, even a conversation nook to seat our drop-in guests and friends. But the finest accessory to my sukkah is Jerusalem itself. I have found that the realization of many of my dreams is somehow disappointing, because reality hardly ever lives up to fantasy.

But not so when the dream is of a sukkah in Jerusalem. When a human dream is tied to a spiritual cause, to Jerusalem, to Sukkot, its actual realization never disappoints. For the mitzvah always transcends human definitions and expectations. To do a holy act, a godly deed, automatically uplifts and ennobles the one who performs. In so doing, the person is saved from the disappointment which almost always accompanies purely physical accomplishments. This is also part of the message of Sukkot and helps us understand even more clearly the joy and happiness that are an integral part of this great holiday of Sukkot.

Reprinted with permission from InnerNet.org

 






ARTICLES ON DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

A Gift to Claim
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5756

Visionary Words
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

Father Knows Best
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Why Do We Mourn?
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771

When Moshiach Comes
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

> The Secret to Rebuke
Shlomo Katz - 5772

The Laws of Kashrus: Is it techinical or something deeper?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

Not To Worry, G-d's In Charge
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5765

ArtScroll

What Are We Mourning on the Ninth of Av
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5765

Murphy's Day
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

In a Month We Call -“Av”
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

Looking for a Chavrusah?

In Our Best Interest
Rabbi Elly Broch - 5764

Children are a Gift
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

Harnessing Powers
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5761

Honesty
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information